Album Review: Howler – ‘This One’s Different’

Like your music clever, eclectic, a little bit difficult? Bugger off then, and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves

Right, forget music. I want you to think about food. I want you to think about pizza. If you’re hungry, and someone offers you a slice of pizza, do you a) reach your hand out, but then check yourself, thinking, ‘Well, I do like pizza, but it’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? A bit… cheesy’, and then order salmon en croute with apricot confit and fondant potatoes instead so everyone knows what a discerning palate you have? Or do you b) eat the fucking pizza?

[a]Howler[/a] are musical pizza. They’re not a band you define yourself by. They’re a band you dance to. Which is not to say that Howler are stupid, or people who like Howler are stupid. They just don’t feel the need to prove that they’re clever.

The title of this first EP by Rough Trade’s most recent signings is both misleading and spot on. There’s nothing much different about these
Minneapolis boys at all, with their sexy bedhead hair, skinny limbs and small-child-romping-at-a-family-wedding goofy energy. Their bratty guitar
pop is as familiar as skin, but also as warm and lovable. But then, how many flat, formulaic takes on this same sound are also-running around out there? Howler are different because they make commonplace components fly with a brilliant nonchalance.

It’s all fine and it’s all great/I’m easy to love and I’m easy to hate,” as they so neatly put it in the scrappy, moody garage brawl of ‘For All
. ‘14 Days’ is like a young William Reid of [a]The Jesus And Mary Chain[/a] fronting first-album Strokes, while ‘You Like White Women. I Like Cigarettes’ bares the teeth of a ferocious mean streak, frontman Jordan Gatesmith howling “I’m so bored of making out” like the embodiment of surly alienation. The crowning glory though, is the sweaty clinch between [a]Jay Reatard[/a] and early [a]Razorlight[/a] that is ‘I Told You Once’.

So keep your coq au vin. ‘This One’s Different’ is a 12-inch, stuffed crust, meatball-spangled extravaganza of an EP whose five tracks we’ll be feasting ourselves on for months. Come their debut album (and it can’t come soon enough, frankly) they’re gonna need a bigger pan.

Emily Mackay